Friday, February 05, 2010

Hypocritical AND Lazy

Two more findings out, both of which point to a public relations nightmare for the government.

We've seen dueling partisan narratives, the opposition hammering the Conservatives on the prorogue issue, the Conservatives doing everything in their power to project a hard working government. According to Harris Decima, pretty much nobody is buying the Conservative projection:
The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey indicates 39 per cent of respondents believed the government had been not at all active or hardworking since Harper prorogued Parliament, which is not due back until March 3.

That's more than triple the 12 per cent who said the government has been very active and hardworking.

A ridiculously low 12% believe the government has been active and hardworking. Poll wise, that figure translates to a disasterous perception amongst Canadians.

As for the rest, hardly encouraging that many do acknowledge a pulse:
Another 37 per cent said the government has been somewhat active.

You can scratch out the Conservative argument that they can get more work done on budget preparation during this prorogation period. Apparently, you can also erase the "railing against the Senate" argument, using prorogation to get advantage in the upper chamber. Characterizations, such as "hypocritical" do the government no favors:
Two-thirds of Canadians believe Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a hypocrite for appointing five new senators, a new Angus Reid poll says.

Despite Harper's longtime promise not to appoint senators, but rather to focus on Senate reform, there are now 33 Harper appointees in the upper chamber. Last month's appointments give the Conservatives control of the Senate.

The survey released Thursday found 65 per cent of respondents see the appointments as hypocritical.

Two polls, that denote a somewhat lazy, hypocritical Conservative Party. Not good for Dear Leader.


JimBobby said...

Whooee! Well, Steve, we all saw the pundits come out wrong, wrong, wrong on the expected reaction to prorogation. Now, I've heard a few of 'em say that once the HOC resumes sitting, the prorogation issue will fall off the map. Maybe it'll be another swing and miss for the pundidiots. Maybe not.

If the prorogation outrage and backlash is to survive, we will need to show exactly how much work went down the tubes. How long will it take to get the legislative agenda back to where it was before the December break? How long before committees are reconstituted and back to where they were pre-prorogue?

If, as a small number believe, the budget triggers an election, how much work will be lost and, importantly, who will take the blame?

My own advice on this is that the public needs to be kept acutely aware that ducking the Afghan detainee issue was the primary reason Harper rolled the dice... and crapped out. So far, so good on that with the committee sitting.

The committee, however, is getting too bogged down in questions of privilege and protocol vis-a-vis the unreleased documents. The facts as reported by NGO spokespersons are that the current agreement is failing to do what it was intended to do. While we play cat and mouse with the document issue, detainees are not being monitored as required on paper and they ARE being tortured... now.

I think many voters see the power play over documents as politics -- parliamentary procedural wrangling done more for partisan gain than for truth-gathering. We know the truth. We've always known it. Detainees we hand over to the Afghans are abused. That fact can be clearly illustrated without the gamesmanship.

Despite some of the callous and uninformed comments I read in MSM comment threads, I truly believe most Canadians are repulsed by torture and are ashamed of any suggestion that our country was complicit in detainee abuse. If they are made to see that we are STILL complicit in ongoing abuse, we will achieve something. That "something" that we must be striving for is a cessation of torture by our allies -- Afghan or American.

Though we can show that abuse continues and we can demand it cease, the reality is that we have little power over such matters. Secret detention centres and denial of monitoring rights precludes our ability to wash our hands.

What to do? Either we quit handing over detainees altogether or we quit Afghanistan altogether.

Ignatieff made some encouraging comments a few days ago regarding the legitimacy of our support for the fraudulently elected Karzai and his gang of warlords, opium merchants and torturers. This theme will resonate and when coupled with the message that the current transfer agreement is failing to prevent torture, human decency will prevail.


Steve V said...

The word prorogue might fade, but the stench isn't something easily shed. All the negatives feed a narrative on Harper that has been building for years, while simultaneously nullifying any attempts to soften his image. Back to square one for piano man, plus more evidence of bully boy.

Tof KW said...

The pundits are only partially correct JB. As Steve pointed out above, the prorogation will die down once Parliament returns, and other government business inevitably takes over the agenda. But this issue has become too big for Harper to completely shake off anymore.

As I wrote a few weeks ago, political lives are a lot like human lives. One can survive a stroke, and then a coronary, but these severe events take their toll and shorten a life span - and contribute to your eventual end. This one was too significant an ailment for Harper to completely recover from.

ChrisInKW said...

Prorogation as a singular issue may die down but it was never about prorogation in isolation but rather a reinforcement of latent perceptions of Mr. Harper.

My prediction is that when Parliament returns, Harper will continue to reinforce those negative perceptions and is likely to continue on the same trajectory.

Disclaimer: I am not a pundit. (Yet.)

Gayle said...

I noticed Harper was on the front page of the Edmonton Journal today for his interview with Sports Illustrated about hockey.

I guess he is reading the polls the same way we are.

ChrisInKW said...

So he has time for sports but no time for Parliament. That seems like an odd way to make a come-back in the public's eye.

Jeff said...

To keep up the pressure, the 'prorogation' narrative needs to be generalized to 'contempt of parliament'

JimBobby said...

Re the sports thing, Susan Delacourt has an interesting observation. Harper's from Mars; Ignatieff's from Venus. Harper's hockey mania and Olympiad worship plays to the macho men, certainly. I'm not sure how effectively Iggy's playing to the distaff voters. If he hammers home the message of compassion and decency wrt to Afstan, he'll be making good moves. Ditto childcare and child health.

Harper opened the door to being called on his blatant hypocrisy re mother and child health. He's standing up for something in Switzerland that he's been putting down at home. Canadian infant mortality rates need to be brought to the attention of those who might be fooled by kind words, kittens and sweater vests. Among Cdn First Nations, infant mortality is worse than in many third world hellholes.

The "contempt of Parliament" is okay as a legal phrase but when we see the kindergarten antics in QP, many of us feel contempt, too. I think the emphasis needs to be broadened to contempt for democracy and contempt for the voters.

Hey, sports fans. How about that Onion Ring?


Tof KW said...

The "contempt of Parliament" is okay as a legal phrase but when we see the kindergarten antics in QP, many of us feel contempt, too. I think the emphasis needs to be broadened to contempt for democracy and contempt for the voters.

As Steve has argued many times (and I fully agree) the single and very powerful word that the Grits should be using to describe Harper and his government ad nauseam: Arrogant

Omar said...

The problem I have with the 'arrogant' label is that every government we've had in recent memory has been arrogant. Hell, I think 'arrogant' is pretty much the middle name of just about any politician you can name. Sadly, arrogance seems to be a prerequisite for running for elected office in the first place. The word that I would prefer driven home at every stop to describe the Harper and his government is: Incompetent. Competent arrogance I can stomach. Incompetence combined with arrogance, not so much.

Scotian said...

I'm with Omar, incompetent arrogance is something that has no redeeming qualities, while competent arrogance can (as irritating as it may be to be on the receiving end of said arrogance it is at least partly forgivable when there is some basis of competence to support it with) be seen so. It is almost axiomatic in modern politics to consider political leaders as arrogant by their very nature in their makeup that drives them to become leaders of political parties and governments to begin with.

I also think that incompetent arrogance is better in this country as a criticism of a PM because of the motto of this country being peace order and good (as in competent) government, something we have seen little to none of under the Harper regime. It seems to have taken a while to happen, but recognition of fundamental and broad based incompetence within the CPC government and leadership seems to finally be setting into the Canadian public at large (mind you, I've always believed that at least a good part of the so called incompetence is by design given Harper's long standing views on the fundamental inability of government to do anything positive for the citizenry according to the ideology he has stated and practiced throughout his political career since the 1980s onwards).

The last four years have been what I expected to see from Harper and why I always said he was something fundamentally different, alien and toxic to the Canadian political culture and Canadian way of life and why I've always said nothing was more important to our culture and social justice and policy beliefs to keep him from power and failing that preventing him from a majority government (even in minority he has done far more damage than I suspect even politically aware people really recognize/are aware of let alone the wider public) until he is finally driven from office and power.

I am slowly coming back to political commenting/blogging now that it finally appears people in this country are waking up to the danger Harper represents to our way of life. The stress of being Cassandra got to my health and I had to take a long break (the longest I have ever taken in my life from politics), it was simply too painful to watch my worst fears coming true and not being recognized by the wider populace for what it was. I think though I have finally seen enough real response from the wider public over this prorogation this time to believe things may finally be turning that corner and Harper will no longer be able to so easily whitewash his true self and agendas away from sight.

Have a good weekend all...

Gayle said...

It is great to see you back Scotian. I have often thought of you and hoped you were doing OK.

Keith Kline said...

I have one comment for Stephen"Sneaky" Harper..."It ain't easy bein sneaky!" Yes many things he has done recently will stick to some extent. One reason the prorogue caper blew up in his face is that we remembered the last time and didn't like it so twice was once too many.
The people and the press got it together on this one so it kept going.

Steve V said...

Nice to see you around Scotian. Cheers.